I don’t know who needs to hear this, but makeup—and beauty, in general—should be fun. Yes, finding the perfect shade of lipstick might make you feel all the more powerful during that important presentation, and a fresh new haircut might be just the ticket for an extra dose of self-confidence, but above all, experimenting and finding the creativity within the field of beauty should bring joy, and it should be something you do for yourself, and no one else.
Remember when we were eight and were drawn to a sparkly green eye shadow or glow-in-the-dark pot of nail polish? We weren’t thinking about whether or not said beauty product was “cool” or whether it’s what our favorite celebrity or influencer was wearing. Instead, we were following our basic instinct; gravitating toward something we loved purely because it made us happy or sparked excitement and joy. Let's return to that, shall we?
I can’t remember the last time I applied my makeup with that kind of free, completely un-influenced abandon, and I highly doubt that I'm alone. As more and more people emulate the exact same beauty aesthetic (I love social media, but sometimes I curse it), I’ve slowly but surely found myself resisting the mainstream ideologies of what’s “trendy” or “in” when it comes to makeup—a return to beauty sans an agenda if you will. Perhaps, that’s why I have so much admiration and love for French-born, Brooklyn-based makeup artist Violette and her brand new vegan, cruelty-free beauty line named for her eponymous IG and YouTube handle, Violette_FR.
Violette, who goes by her first name only, is like the human version of a tall, refreshing glass of water on a scorching summer day. Yes, she has chic French-girl beauty attributes like perfectly mussed bangs, and petal-stained lips, but her approach to makeup is all about celebrating and enhancing what’s naturally there, and not using makeup to artificially warp or manipulate our appearance.
Soak in her content, and you’ll quickly realize you’re most definitely in the wrong place for harsh contouring tutorials or pout-plumping lip liner tricks. Instead, you’ll find dreamy, whimsical, and truly inspiring tips and how-tos that will—I bet you a full paycheck—spark a long-suppressed desire to try something totally new and outside of your comfort zone. While Violette’s new brand has technically been in the making for the past three years, she explained during a recent Zoom event that it’s been a developing passion project (in her mind, at least!) throughout her entire career as a makeup artist and influencer.
Not surprisingly, her brand-new collection of products is everything her legions of fans and followers would hope it to be. You’ll find the matte red lipstick of all matte red lipsticks; an eye-shadow–and-liner hybrid available in two different wearable finishes (matte and twinkling); the quintessential Parisian perfume oil; a handy-dandy dry shampoo brush you can pack in your bag; a non-makeupy highlight stick that will replace all of your other highlighters; and, last but certainly not least, a multitasking skincare milk that’s sprayable and intentionally designed to do the work of your entire routine with exception to your cleanser.
Plus, in addition to the line being vegan and cruelty-free, every product also plays host to safe, “no-compromise” ingredients that surpass FDA cosmetic requirements for the U.S. and abide by the European Cosmetic Directive’s far stricter regulations. So while having an absolute ball playing with and applying the products, you can rest easy knowing they are safe for you, your home, and the environment. To celebrate Violette’s new line, my fellow beauty editor Courtney Higgs and I are testing and reviewing the exciting product lineup just below. Spoiler: the roster is fabulous, and if you do one nice thing for yourself this spring, make it a Violette_FR shopping trip. Keep scrolling!
Courtney Higgs, Beauty Editor
"I’m always a little skeptical of products that claim to encompass several skincare steps without sacrificing any of the individual benefits. This cream spray claims to replace toner, serum, and moisturizer in the routine with a quick mist. It’s packed with skin-loving ingredients like birch sap, glacier water, and olive leaf extract, so on paper, it seems like it would be able to balance, moisturize, and comfort the skin. Since I’m a rebel, instead of applying it to clean skin as instructed, I layered my latest favorite vitamin C serum on first, which is super lightweight and practically disappears on the skin anyway. (Sorry, I’m working on some hyperpigmentation ahead of Hot Girl Summer!)
"I then gave my face a couple of spritzes of Boum-Boum Milk instead of going in with my usual hydrating serum and day cream. I have to say that I was shocked at how moisturizing this stuff actually is. The consistency is thicker than a toner and lighter than a conventional cream, but somehow still feels like it imparts a silky halo over the skin. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I do. I think it's right on time for summer (I'd absolutely take this bottle with me to the pool or beach to rehydrate my face throughout the day), but I’d love to see how it holds up to winter dryness."
"I’m a big fan of liquid eye shadow pigments. I find that once you get the hang of them, they’re so quick and easy to use. This formula falls right in line with others I’ve tried in terms of ease of use. The directions state that both fingers and brushes are acceptable for blending, so I used a combination of both. After dragging the flat side of the applicator along my lid to deposit pigment (which is super vibrant, might I add), I lightly tapped to blend it out before using a fluffy blending brush to buff and smooth out any build-up in my crease. The product feels weightless and comfortable once dry. I kept my application light, airy, and diffused, but I love the idea of creating a more precise shape for an edgier look. I’ll try that next time, because, yes, there will definitely be a next time!"
"I was instantly intrigued by this shimmery, copper pigment. I decided to line my eyes with it, using an angled brush to draw a wing. While this kept my application fairly precise, I don’t think I got the impact I could have gotten has I used the doe-foot applicator on its own. I was worried my line would look too chunky, but honestly, this is the type of shade that needs to be seen, so the chunkier, the better. I would definitely layer this hue on my eyes for an impactful nighttime look."
"It’s been a while since I’ve worn a true matte lipstick, and this lip color is just that—a true matte. First of all, though, we have to talk about the color, because it is absolutely everything. It’s described as the shade of red, and it really is. It’s vivid and romantic and could give anyone that certain je ne sais quoi. I put it through the mask test as I stepped out to walk my dog after applying, and it didn’t transfer at all. In fact, I was still wearing it by dinnertime, and it held up through an entire meal! I think I’ve found my new date-night lip.
"That said, this is not the product to use if you have dry lips. My lips have felt uncharacteristically dry recently, and the second I applied this color I could feel any life instantly sucked out of my pout. You the feeling. I would definitely prep for this with a light exfoliation and a lip mask to infuse as much moisture as possible."
Erin Jahns, Senior Beauty Editor
Ironically, this was the product I was the least excited by but am now the most obsessed with. If you check out the website, Violette makes it clear that this formula, in particular, is her baby, and that she had standards she worried might be inconceivably high for a multitasking milky mist. She wanted one product that would replace the rest of her skincare routine aside from a cleanser. As Courtney explained, it's meant to act as a toner, serum, and moisturizer, and, honestly, all I could think when I looked at it was, "Oh god, this is going to be breakout city for me." I was so wrong, and this is truly a pretty miraculous product. I've tried my fair share of formulas designed to compress multiple skincare steps into one, and they pretty much always fail. Not this one! It easily spreads over and melts into the skin, and leaves you feeling hydrated, glowy, and balanced. (An effect that somehow lasts all day!) My one caveat is I don't like using it in its natural spray form. It's definitely more aggressive than a mist, and I've found just spraying it into my palms and them massaging it over my face, neck, and decollete is just the ticket for A+ application.
I'm sorry, guys, I keep lying to you! I used to be a powder highlighter girl through and through, but lately, I've been a little obsessed with balmy highlight sticks. I think I've proclaimed my love for two others in recent months (both times saying the newest try was my new favorite), but okay, THIS one is my favorite. I don't even know where to begin. First of all, it looks natural AF. I literally smothered it under and above my collarbones, right on my Cupid's bow, around my brow bones, down the bridge of my nose, and on the highest points of my cheekbones.
Now, with any other product, that would have been complete overkill and I would have looked like a greasy mess, but not here! Instead, it just sinks into the skin to deliver the perfect dose of lit-from-within radiance. It doesn't look like you applied anything, it just looks like you woke up like that. According to the website, Violette likes to say the stick has “mirror pigment,” which means it’s going to catch and reflect light without looking like actual makeup. Violette, please make a stick five times this size so I can use it everywhere.
I haven't worn sparkly blue liquid liner since my elementary dance recital days (Urban Decay if you're wondering—yes, my mom got me started early, LOL!), but if anyone can make a twinkling navy liner and shadow job look chic and sophisticated, it's Violette. I'm always über intimidated by any kind of dark shadow or eye look, but this product is freakishly easy to use and maneuver.
To get my technique on point, I watched Violette's IG tutorial here, and truly, it was so painless, fast, and easy! The pigment payoff is next level, and I only needed one or two swipes to get it to the saturation of my liking. I love that the doe-foot applicator has a thicker flat side (great if you want thick eyeliner or are doing shadow), but the applicator's side is nice and thin if you want something more precise. I used that thin side to make the wing, and then I took a small liner brush to extend my wing out even further to make it look less blocky. If you're someone who wants to be able to apply their makeup in the morning without having to worry about it or look at it for the rest of the day, you'll love this. It won't budge or lose its luster until you want it to. I officially need every shade.
I cannot remember the last time I wore red lipstick. It definitely wasn't in 2020, and honestly, I don't think it was 2019 or 2018 either. I used to be all about the retro, Old Hollywood glamour aesthetic, but in the last couple of years, I've really found myself gravitating towards low-maintenance berry and rose hues that are closer to my natural lip color.
That being said, one look at how stunning this universally flattering shade of red looked on both Violette and my coworker Courtney, and I knew I had to try it ASAP. Okay, I'll just say this. If you want to invest in one classic red matte lipstick to wear until the end of time, let it be this one. It's perfect. Like, truly perfect. It's plush and sinks easily into your lips so you're not left with any weird streaks or stripes. It dries down quickly, but you still have enough fudge time to tap and blend if you want a more diffused, blotted look.
Also, it's kind of two different lipsticks in one. I followed Violette's tip by removing it with a makeup wipe and then rubbing the leftover product around my lip and it left me with the best just-bitten stained look. (See the photo below!) It's like the exact look I always want from every other lip stain but can never quite achieve. It's magic. As Courtney said, it is pretty drying (as most matte lippies are), but it's definitely not the most Sahara-inclined matte lipstick I've tried, and by prepping my lips with a good balm beforehand, I didn't run into too much trouble in the dehydration department.
I've gone through a weird phase of despising dry shampoo. In fact, during quarantine, I wasn't washing my hair as much, and slowly but surely, my hair has become less oily—no dry shampoo needed! Plus, I found that when I was using dry shampoo, in the rare occurrence that I had to go out in the wild in 2020, my favorite formulas seemed to be causing breakage and scalp irritation. Anywho, it has been a hot second since I'd used the stuff when this new formula from Violette landed in my lap.
During a deskside, I watched Violette apply the powder by brushing it straight into her hairline and bangs, and I was pretty amazed at how instantly it revived her strands and lent that perfectly mussed French aesthetic I'm always craving. Recently new to the bang camp myself, I was optimistic, and I've been using this dry shampoo and this dry shampoo alone to carry my blown-out bangs through day three—and sometimes four—with zero vibes à la The Grudge. Not to mention, I love that it's refillable and therefore contributes to less waste. (You can also easily wash the brush since it detaches!) That said, I have extremely light hair, so I can't speak to how well this blends into darker hair colors. That would be my only warning!
For whatever reason, recently, I've been more obsessed with fragrance than ever before. Another fun fact? Almost every single one of my favorite scents is French. So, obviously, I was chomping at the bit when I found out Violette would be creating her very own signature perfume. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Technically, I think this roll-on perfume oil could be worn any time of the year, but to me, it just screams summer. Salty air, sandy feet, and that little hit of je ne sais quoi that feels inexplicably French. It's heavy on the musk and vetiver but is light and breezy enough for day or night. Plus, the beautiful bottle is the perfect tiny size to throw in your bag and go. It's going to last you forever, so the $52 price tag really makes it all the more delicious.
Shop the Rest of Courtney's Makeup Routine